Research shows that one in four inbound contact centre enquiries are unnecessary or avoidable

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CCA study sponsored by Sabio estimates typical cost of supporting avoidable contact at around £6.75 million annually for a UK contact centre.

Over a quarter of the interactions currently being handled by UK contact centres are either unnecessary or avoidable according to new research announced today by Sabio and the Customer Contact Association (CCA). The research also highlights that the cost of supporting these distracting interactions for a typical UK contact centre can account for around £6.75 million annually.

The findings are part of a survey sponsored by Sabio of CCA member organisations, and published as a White Paper titled: “Challenging Demand in the Contact Centre: The Good, the Bad and the Unnecessary”. The research is part of Sabio’s engagement with the CCA Supplier Council, a high profile network committed to improving the relationship between the supplier community and contact centre operators.

The research found that – on average – 27 percent of contacts received are increasingly seen as unnecessary, with some companies reporting the situation as much worse, with as many as 40 percent of contacts proving unnecessary or wasted. According to the survey, the most common categories of these calls were:

•Chasing calls – many of these come from customers who are unsure of deliveries, application processes or next actions from organisations. Invariably these occur when the reassurance, process or sequence of events have not been communicated adequately to customers

•Calls received as a result of poor outbound communication – resulting from unclear communication and marketing – including areas such as complicated pricing, complex legislative information, or over-detailed forms

•Call centre failure – resulting from scenarios where agents have neglected to take an action, not followed up or incorrectly undertaken a task. Invariably these failures cause customers to have to repeat their original contact

“While cost benefits are clearly uppermost in the minds of the many contact centre directors who make up our membership, this research project with Sabio has shown that the desire to improve customer service is also a key motivator for organisations in challenging demand,” commented Anne Marie Forsyth, the Customer Contact Association’s Chief Executive. “Initiatives such as challenging demand increasingly show that customer satisfaction and cost reduction aren’t mutually exclusive objectives. For example, for organisations looking to improve customer effort scores, it makes perfect sense to spend time driving out the unnecessary repeat calls or poorly-designed services that can frustrate customers and reduce repeat business.”

“While today’s ‘austerity’ economy is driving intense pressure on costs, it’s great to see a clear majority of CCA members choosing not to pursue the easy option of simply removing live service from lower value contacts, and instead putting in the time to really challenge demand,” added Sabio Founding Director, Kenneth Hitchen. “This research illustrates how actively identifying and encouraging the right kind of interactions – while executing strategies to remove the need for other interaction types – can also unlock significant improvements in both the customer experience offered as well as lowering overall operational costs.”

The CCA’s Challenging Demand in the Contact Centre report identifies three distinct contact groups – the Good, the Bad and the Unnecessary. ‘The Good’ covers those contacts that organisations want to receive and that add value – such as sales enquiries and customer service requests that can only be dealt with via direct agent interactions. ‘The Bad’ are contacts that are the consequence of organisational failure – such as repeat calls to chase up a failed delivery, billing errors, or complaints about poor performance. ‘The Unnecessary’ are customer contacts that could be just as easily be handled through the use of self-service channels, without compromise to customer satisfaction, which may just require education or incentives to transition.